Beyond Sovereignty: Immigration Policy Making Today

By Sassen, Saskia | Social Justice, Fall 1996 | Go to article overview

Beyond Sovereignty: Immigration Policy Making Today


Sassen, Saskia, Social Justice


The interaction between the denationalizing of key economic institutions and spaces, on the one hand, and the renationalizing of politics on the other provides one of the main contexts for immigration policy and practice today. We see a growing consensus in the community of states to lift border controls for the flow of capital, information, services, and more broadly, to further globalization. Yet when it comes to immigrants and refugees, whether in North America, Western Europe, or Japan, we see the national state claiming all its old splendor and asserting its sovereign right to control its borders, a right that is a matter of consensus in the community of states.

What does it mean for the state to relinquish sovereignty in some realms and to continue to be sovereign in others? If we accept, as I do, that the state itself has been transformed by its participation in the implementation of laws and regulations necessary for economic globalization, we must accept as a possibility that sovereignty itself has been transformed. Elsewhere (1996b) I have argued that exclusive territoriality - a marking feature of the modern state - is being destabilized by economic globalization and that we are seeing the elements of a process of denationalization of national territory, though in a highly specialized institutional and functional way. Further, the particular combination of power and legitimacy we call sovereignty, which has over the last century become almost synonymous with the national state, is today being partly unbundled, redistributed onto other entities, particularly supranational organizations, international agreements on human rights, and the new emergent private international legal regime for business transactions (Ibid,). With all of this happening, what does it mean to assert, as is repeatedly done in the immigration literature, that the state has exclusive authority over the entry of non-nationals? Is the character of that exclusive authority today the same as it was before the current phase of globalization and the ascendance of human rights as a nonstate-centered form of legitimate power?(1)

My analysis focuses largely on immigration in the highly developed receiving countries. I use the notion of immigration policy rather broadly to refer to a wide range of distinct national policies. I should note that it is often difficult to distinguish immigrants and refugees. Yet there is (still) a separate regime for refugees in all these countries. Indeed, there is an international regime for refugees, something that can hardly be said for immigration. The focus in this brief essay is on the constraints faced by the state in highly developed countries in the making of immigration policy today.(2)

The Border and the Individual as Regulatory Sites

In my reading there is a fundamental framework that roots all the country-specific immigration policies of the developed world in a common set of conceptions about the role of the state and of national borders. The purpose here is not to minimize the many differences in national policies, but to underline the growing convergence in various aspects of immigration policy and practice.(3)

First, the sovereignty of the state and border control, whether land borders, airports, or consulates in sending countries, lie at the heart of the regulatory effort. Second, immigration policy is shaped by an understanding of immigration as the consequence of the individual actions of emigrants; the receiving country is taken as a passive agent, one not implicated in the process of emigration. In refugee policy, in contrast, there is a recognition of other factors, beyond the control of individuals, as leading to outflows.(4) Two fundamental traits of immigration policy are, then, that it singles out the border and the individual as the sites for regulatory enforcement.

The sovereignty of the state when it comes to power over entry is well established by treaty law and constitutionally.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beyond Sovereignty: Immigration Policy Making Today
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.